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CPH Birthplace now offering pertussis vaccine to new parents, caregivers


POTSDAM - John Tuttle became the first new dad to receive the vaccine for pertussis, also known as whooping cough, as part of a new program of Canton-Potsdam Hospital’s Birthplace.

Pertussis is a common disease in the US, affecting approximately 25,000 people per year. Peaks in the number of reported cases occur every three to five years, with a severe outbreak (highest number of reported cases since 1995) occurring in 2010. The disease can be fatal, especially among infants under one year of age. The CPH Birthplace staff members are offering immunizations to new parents as part of an effort to control disease outbreaks and protect newborns.

“Parents are eager to do what’s best for their newborns,” said Susan Smith, RN, director of the Birthplace. “Our staff members routinely offer education to parents about how to keep their babies safe. Even parents who’ve had children before might need new information, as recommendations change with advances in medical knowledge. “We educate parents on everything from car seats to the latest recommendations on placing infants in cribs for safe sleeping,” she said. “Protection against common diseases like pertussis is part of the entire continuum of care we provide for expectant mothers and new parents.”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, pertussis is caused by a bacterium, Bordatella pertussis, which spreads through droplets exhaled into the air by an infected person. The disease is highly contagious, and is known by its symptoms: uncontrollable, violent coughing that causes the sufferer to inhale deeply, making a “whooping” sound after a coughing fit.

“Pertussis is a potentially fatal disease that is preventable,” said Nancy Wood, RN, infection prevention specialist at CPH. “The best way to protect against the spread of B. pertussis is vaccination,” she said.

“Parents and those who will be closest to the newborn should get the vaccine, known as Tdap, and should ensure their babies are vaccinated according to the schedule recommended by their primary caregiver,” said Ms. Wood. “Vaccination for those, such as grandparents or babysitters, who will be in close contact with newborn infants is also recommended at least two weeks before coming into contact with the baby,” she said. “This is known as cocooning—surrounding the baby with a cocoon of protection,” she added.

“For children younger than seven years of age, the vaccine is known as Dtap. Both Tdap and Dtap are effective against pertussis and also provide protection against diphtheria and tetanus. Adults need diphtheria and tetanus booster shots every 10 years to maintain their effectiveness against these two diseases,” she said. “Vaccination is safe and is an important way parents and guardians can protect precious new additions to families,” added Ms. Wood.

“New parents of the Birthplace and anticipated caregivers can get the vaccine here. Anticipated caregivers can also visit one of our primary care locations in Brasher Falls, Canton, Norfolk, or Potsdam at least two weeks prior to the expected birth date,” she said. “Expectant mothers can even send e-mail reminders that we provide directly to the baby’s relatives to notify them of this recommendation.”For more information about the pertussis vaccine, prospective parents and their relatives may call the CPH Birthplace at 315-261-5965 or visit the Hospital’s website at

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